SHOOTING MATCH

On Dec. 22, an essay by syndicated columnist Bob Greene appeared on the “Viewpoint” page of the Morning News. In his concluding paragraph, Greene wrote, “A famous public figure can be cut down by a suddenly famous assassin only once in a great while. The hunters – though – the ’sportsmen,’ are out there every day, wandering the land, the sickest of America’s sick.”

Because of this comment and several others which preceded it, many area out-doorsmen determined that the article was anti-hunter in texture. In the after-shock, the News’ switchboard was reportedly tied up for two days. Most of these calls were fielded by beleaguered managing editor Buster Haas since the other higher-ups were gone for the holidays.

The volume of hate mail was unprecedented, and for the next two weeks, the News’ letters to the editor section featured literally dozens of pieces of correspondence carrying headlines like “Irresponsible Tripe” and “Absurd Article.”

Some of the most provocative letters carried statements such as “the garbage written by this character could very well have been written by Sen. Kennedy or some of the other anti-hunting and anti-fishing bleeding hearts” and “to take my gun away from me, Bob, you’ll have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands.”

An editorial department spokesman estimated the News published “about 30 per cent of the letters we received. Many of them were unsigned and others were just too rough to print.”

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